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Online Social Media Has Its Own Bully Pulpit

June 26, 2011

Popular use of the term bully pulpit originated with President Theodore Roosevelt, who described the White House as a bully pulpit – a platform from which to strongly advocate a particular position. Ironically, this use of bully is not related to the noun for harraser, but to the Dutch boel and German nebenbuhler, which mean lover.

Just like offline society, online social platforms have bullies and I think the term bully pulpit should be defined online as the harrasser’s pulpit. Many of us are more frequently encountering these modern social bullies, trolls and haters. I suspect these characters feel that they can misbehave online, because to some it feels less directly connected to reality. But, there is no excuse offline and online for bad behavior. I’m sure some Masters and/or Ph. D. students will eventually study this phenomenon, but until then, I’m considering creating an online list where these misadapts can be placed for all to see and comment. Unfortunately, such a list will likely spawn its own haters. “Can’t we all just get along?”

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